I’ve driven my fair share of cars, some get noticed and some simply slot into the world of transport like a new appliance in the kitchen. This new Opel Adam is far from an appliance judging by the amount of people who stared, pointed and took pics of the car at just about every place I stopped. This is a good thing for Opel South Africa, a very good thing. So far the only downside I’ve heard related to the Opel Adam is that the first shipment of them sold out in the first sales month and a few new owners had to wait for theirs. Again, a good thing for Opel.
Even though the car, like just about every other car on the roads, sports badges with the name, I was starting to wonder if they were only visible to me. More than once someone would walk around the car inspecting it, followed by “So what Opel is it?”. I’d have to then tell them that it’s called Adam. This answer drew blank stares and more questions. Why would I call my car Adam? Is it because it’s blue? Would a pink one be called Eve? Who is Adam? That is was my cue to show off my motoring brain. This new Opel, one of the three New Germans recently launched, is actually named Adam as a nod to the man behind the Opel brand, Adam Opel. Seeing as so many people I told this Trivial Pursuit-winning fact to have never heard about Adam Opel before, even die-hard Opel fans, I feel I must summarise some of Wikipedia’s knowledge to get everyone up to speed.
Adam Opel was born in 1837 in Russelsheim where he studied as a locksmith under his father (also a locksmith) until his twenties when he went on to study in Belgium, still in the same trade. This is where he turned his attention to an amazing new innovation, the sewing machine, and in 1859 ended up working for a sewing machine manufacturer. This sparked an idea to start his own sewing machine business and when his uncle gave him space in an unused cow stall to start his company up, Opel as a business was born. Things were slow, but steady. In 1867 his father died and he also hooked up with a woman, Sophie, from a wealthy family. Her family money helped expand the Opel factory and in 1870 as a tribute her, his latest machine was named the Sophia. Things were good. Some life happened in between and their family expanded to include five sons, all becoming part of the Opel family business. They were eventually more interested in another new innovation – the bicycle. It was just cooler, and potential profits were better.
Adam was curious and ordered a bicycle for himself. As clever as he was, the chap was as graceful as a water buffalo running on cooking oil and wiped out so bad he had an instant hate of the “bone breaker”. Still, begging sons and potential income changed his mind and as he gave the go ahead resulting in Opel bicycles being manufactured. They were industry leaders producing the best bikes in Germany and the brothers all became top cyclists. Self-propelled transport was the next logical step for the company, although many years away from this point. A whole bunch happened in between, many ups and downs and years of struggle, including Adam dying in 1895. So while he had nothing to do directly with the cars that the company would be manufacturing in the future, if there was no Adam, there would be no Opel – hence the latest game-changing car to be added to the Opel line up being dedicated to his memory. Now that you’re clued up, back to the car.
It’s a cracker of a little car and after a week behind the wheel, it’s pretty obvious why they’re selling so well worldwide. Of the models on offer; the Adam, the Adam Jam, the Adam Slam, the Adam Glam and the Adam Motorsport Edition, I was given the Jam version. The base Adam kicks off at R189 900 and is pretty well specced for the price, featuring a 74kW 1.4 lump with a 5-speed ‘box. The Jam however starts at R209 900 and while higher up in the Adam food chain, it gets a smaller motor. It’s an absolutely brilliant little motor though, a 3-cylinder, 998cc turbocharged mill producing 85kW and 166Nm and to get the best out of it, the Opel engineers coupled it to a great 6-speed gearbox with excellent ratios. With the Adam Jam tipping the scales at just over a ton it’s a brilliant drive. I had a few people drive in the car with me during the test week, people used to fast and modified cars, and after a spirited drive I had a hard time convincing them that the performance was from such a small capacity motor.
The Adam reminded me of my young and stupid days messing around with Uno Turbos, except this car is built properly with the best bits Germany has to offer including a 4-star N-Cap rating, unlike the Uno that could dent from a strong crosswind. You have no idea how tempting it was to try and find the wastegate and, um, ‘manipulate’ it. Anything with boost is fun to drive and it tends to make your right foot heavier than usual, well it does to mine, and even so, the Jam still doesn’t guzzle gas. I was getting returns in the 6l/100km range for the combined cycle. Opel claims the in-line 3 can carry the Adam to 100km/h in 9.9-seconds and it tops out at 196km/h, but it does feel quicker. The Motorsport version must be a hoot to drive, and an OPC-badged version even better. Sadly for now, Opel have ruled that out. Still, the aftermarket world that I’m familiar with will just love this motor. I can already see tuning shops offering downpipes, exhausts and software. This will make these little cars pretty manic to drive, but just know that if you go down this road you’ll be giving up your warranty.
As I’ve said, the Adam Jam attracted attention wherever I drove. In the Supermini segment where some competitor cars share similar looks, it still stands out thanks to some pretty radical styling cues. There are loads of styling options available to tailor the Adam range to suit individual tastes, which means finding identical ones on the streets won’t happen too often. My blue and white Jam was kitted out with some extra options – The Adam Jam OPC-Line Twisted Pack that’s made up of the choice of a white or black roof (this was white as you can see from my pics), a set of 17-inch Hurricane alloys and an OPC-Line kit. These options can also be had separately too. The full option kit is called the Xtreme Pack and it’s the same except the alloy choice changes to 18-inch Twisters. There’s more available too; logo bars, exterior side mirror covers, decal kits, inside rear view mirror covers, interior décor kits, sports alloy pedals and wheel clips on the 18-inch wheel option.
Everyone I saw when I had the car was interested in it, and while a few who know what’s what agreed the price tag was good, more than a few said it was a little too much. This led me into rattling off a bunch of the standard features of the Adam Jam, and once done I had heads nodding sagely in agreement that it is in fact a worthy buy. Check it, the Adam Jam has start/stop engine control (that you can turn off if you don’t want to confuse the car in heavy traffic situations). I had it turned off a lot because it confused me, not the car. I’m used to old school cars that tend to die on me, so when I feel the revs drop past idle I mash the clutch pedal in to save the car from stalling. With the stop/start tech, the car is meant to “die” and comes alive when the clutch pedal it touched but I messed it up 9 out of 10 times. That poor starter.
There’s Eco-Drive Assistance Display – this is a digital gauge that tells you the best shift points to get the optimum mileage out of the Jam. When you take the bigger wheels option, the Adam has the Sports Chassis option, which is great for handling, as you’d expect - and yeah, the Adam can be chucked around like a redheaded stepchild and it doesn’t put a tyre wrong. There are 15-inch discs front and rear, LED daytime running lights, LED brake lights, a dual tone horn, a 7" Touchscreen Intellilink infotainment system with Bluetooth, USB, AUX and the BringGo Navigation; Stitcher and TuneIn apps pre-loaded – connected to a set of seven speakers that did a great job of blaring out some of Slipknot’s finest. You’ll also find individual tyre pressure monitoring, front and rear park sensors and Advanced Parking Aid 2 (APA2). One safety feature in the Adam Jam that every new car should have is the Side Blind Zone Alert, a small orange indicator in the mirror that lights up when there’s a car in your blind spot.
The interior is pretty sweet, I really liked the OCIO Black Morrocanna seat trim, and it’s a great look on the front seats that have a definite sporty feel to them, even though they’re not actually sport seats. The Opel Adam Jam’s interior is a great place to be, the multifunction steering wheel is fat and sturdy and all other functions spread around the cabin fall in easy reach of the driver. You also have the option to customise the trim of the interior to match the exterior paint, or any colour in the options booklet that you’d like. In my Jam, the dash trim was dark blue, matching the exterior paint. This looked cool but it did scare the hell out of me on my first drive. Dark paint reflects, and from the driving position when you look at the trim it reflects things from outside of the passenger window. So a bright light that shone through the window reflected on the dash and in turn, into my eyes. It wasn’t that it was too bright; it was that my brain thought another car was trying to get into the passenger seat and this prompted an evasive driving manoeuvre on my part that would have had witnesses laughing and our friendly Metro wanting to check if I was sober.
So what don’t I like about the Opel Adam Jam? Actually. I can’t answer that. I know many people expect a car review to be good because if you slate a car, you won’t get more test cars from that manufacturer, but that’s not why I can’t answer. I really can’t fault the car in any way. Everyone who knows me is aware that I like small cars, especially hatches, so yeah, maybe a little bias has crept in, but in all honesty, the Opel Adam Jam is a great car from front to back. The first batch in the country has already outsold all it’s competitors – combined! The Opel Adam range is definitely a game changer as the advertising campaign suggests, it’s a definite winner and one of the three new models on sale from the manufacturer that’s taking the brand to new heights. Welcome to SA Adam, make yourself at home.
The Opel Adam Jam comes with a five-year/120 000km warranty and a three-year/60 000km service plan. Pricing for this model starts at R209 900. For more info, head on over to www.opel.co.za